Liquid Telecom and Telecom Egypt partner to complete 'Cape to Cairo' fibre network

16 July 2018 | James Pearce


Liquid Telecom has struck an agreement with Telecom Egypt that will allow the African operator to complete a pan-African terrestrial fibre network, stretching from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) will see Liquid link its network in Sudan into Telecom Egypt’s network through a new cross border interconnection, completing a 10-year project to offer a 60,000km network running the length of the continent.

The fibre network – referred to as the “One Africa” broadband network – will run from Cape Town, through all the Southern, Central and Eastern African Countries, to reach the border between Sudan and Egypt, where it will interconnect with Telecom Egypt’s network.

Liquid Telecom, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless Global, has been building a fibre network across southern Africa covering Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also has a presence in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda.

Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and chairman of Econet, said it has been his vision to build the Cape to Cairo fibre network, which echoes a famously uncompleted railway attempted by former Cape Colony Prime Minister Cecil Rhodes in the 19th century.

Masiyiwa said: “Completing our vision of building a single network running on land, all the way from Cape to Cairo is a historic moment for the company and for a more connected Africa. This network not only represents a remarkable engineering achievement that has overcome some of the most challenging distances and terrains on the continent, but it is also supporting the rise of Africa’s digital economies.”

The MoU will see the two companies share network infrastructure, whilst they will also work together to explore potential collaboration opportunities. This could include offering joint network services, peering services and a voice interconnection agreement.

Capacity Africa 2018 banner

The deal means Telecom Egypt’s customers will have access to Liquid Telecom’s pan-African fibre network, which spans more than 50,000km and access to five key subsea cable systems. Also, the Egyptian operator will offer Liquid greater reach through its interconnection services.

“This MoU is a great step in our strategy to penetrate the African market and avail Telecom Egypt’s most advanced technology and global infrastructure services to customers across Africa. We look forward to working alongside Liquid Telecom to develop new network services and products that will help stimulate intra-regional trade,” said Ahmed El Beheiry, Telecom Egypt’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.

The MoU marks a key partnership for the African market, although no timeframe for completion or cost was given when the partnership was announced. 

Informa estimates predict the number of mobile broadband subscribers in frica could grow by nearly eight times to 806 million by the end of 2018, driven by affordable mobile broadband services underpinned by strong fibre networks.

The deal was announced at the 2018 annual meeting of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) which was held in Nigeria last week. Dr. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said: “The roll-out of infrastructure, particularly high-speed networks, is crucial for stimulating intra-regional trade. The Cape to Cairo network sets a new standard for Africa and will open-up new trade opportunities across the region. Our congratulations to Telecom Egypt and Liquid Telecom for reaching an agreement to complete the Cape to Cairo network.”